• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Participant observation studies have little value in sociological research because they are too subjective. Explain and assess this claim

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

?Participant observation studies have little value in sociological research because they are too subjective.? Explain and assess this claim. 18/25 72% C The view above is supported by the positivist. They argued that sociologist should not be concerned with the internal meanings, motives, feelings and emotions of individuals which are the aspects looked from a participant observations method. Since these mental states exist only in the person?s consciousness, they cannot be observed and they cannot be measured in any objective ways. This shows that positivist supports the view above and provides a more suitable method for sociological research, quantitative method. According to Auguste Comte, scientific study of the society should be done by collecting information about phenomena that can be objectively observed and classified. By data, patterns can be found thus lead to explanation for sociological understanding. That is why they prefer the quantitative research method such as the questionnaires since it can covers wide group of society in short space of time and prevents researcher?s bias. Hence, their method has high objectivity and high representativeness rather than compared to qualitative method. ...read more.

Middle

The sociologist must interpret the meaning given to actions by the actors themselves. According to them, people react, reflect on their own behavior, and have awareness and consciousness of their lives, and therefore explanation for the pattern of their lives can never be found using the cold objective approach of the scientist. Hence to obtain their data, the Interactionist prefers methods like participant observation since it can uncover the true motives of each action taken by human. This method has great validity. This is evident in Erving Goffman study of mental hospitals, published as Stigma in 1968. Goffman worked in an asylum for the mentally ill as Assistant Athletic Director. His research was mainly covert, with only a couple of staff being privy to the knowledge of his research, and via this method he was able to uncover the 'unofficial reality' of life in a mental institution. Thus, this evidence contradicted the view above which proves that participant observation method is useful for sociological research. However, Interactionist methods are greatly criticized by the positivist. ...read more.

Conclusion

it may provide a better understanding of a phenomenon than if one method had been used and thus offers great potential in many instances. In a study of the Unification Church, or Moonies, Eileen Barker used participant observation, questionnaires and in depth interviewing. She claimed this combination methods allowed her to ?see how the movement as a whole was organized and how it influenced the day-to-day actions and interactions of its member?. She tried to test hypotheses formulated from qualitative data using questionnaires. Hence here we can see that through triangulation, a better understanding of the whole situation. This is supported by a study done by Delmont. She used the Flanders Interaction Analysis Categories in her studies of classroom interaction. These allowed her to categorize the different types of interaction and to time them in order to determine differences in the educational experience of the boys and girls. She used qualitative data to explain the reasons for the quantitative relationships she found. Thus it is combining the two methods can really give a more useful information in our study with better objectivity, representativeness, reliability and validity. Give more value to the study. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Examine the weakness of different types of documents used in a sociological research. Examine ...

    4 star(s)

    Taking that into account, there are two different perspectives on the choice of research methods. This is positivism and interpretivism. Positivist and interpretivist collect and use different types of data. Positivsit prefer quantitative, whilst interpretivist prefer qualitative data, because they make different propositions about the nature of society and how we should examine.

  2. Assess the usefulness of participant observation as a research method for sociologists.

    Interpretivists would like this as Eileen got to look into the meaning behind the religious sect and the meaning behind why they were there, the meaning behind the moonies.

  1. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of participant observation, as a research method

    Overt observation allows the researcher to avoid the ethical problem of being deceitful, whereas, covert forces the researcher to hide their identity. Overt, also allows the researcher to take notes openly. This is a disadvantage for using covert research, as if the study goes on for a long period of

  2. Assess the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value ...

    In response to the criticisms of Bowles and Gintis, Marxists such as Henry Giroux (1982) have created a modified approach to the analysis. He argues that working class pupils are actively engaged in shaping their own situation, not accepting everything they are taught, nor is their behaviour entirely shaped by capitalism.

  1. Choice of research method. here are various types of research methods available, such ...

    As such, interpretivist sees qualitative research method as most appropriate way of research as it allows them to understand the meanings and motives of action. For example, an interview conducted by Howard S. Becker to study marijuana smokers allowed him to discover the motives and circumstances that led them to try drug and continue using it.

  2. Assess the view that cults, sects and new age movement are fringe organisations that ...

    It can be very hard to decide. In the exclusive definition of religion the religion must have leaders and something holy. Well in Manson's sect he was the leader and they believed he was the holy one so it can be said to become under this definition.

  1. Critically Assess Observation Methods.

    Covert observation also helps to avoid problems with the Hawthorne Effect- as the research subjects would be unaware of the researcher's presence or interest. Observation methods also allow researchers to gain access to groups that usually would not be accessible through other methods e.g.

  2. Assess the usefulness of interactionist approaches to the study of society

    The goal is to control the image that they are presenting to others. When others get a glimpse behind the mask, backstage, this can disrupt the illusion and can often create conflict. The Dramaturgical Model doesn?t really suggest ways to bring change or reform to the actions of the performers.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work